How do I know this is a good idea?

Jan 2014

Note: I originally wrote this article just prior to pressing pause on PublicBeta.

In hindsight - and reading this - I can totally see how obvious the things were that I was battling with at the time and how my own fears and uncertainties translated into questions like these.

That said though, I think there's something really valuable about this question and the way I at least tried to answer it back then.

Fact is that our own fear of failure and our perception of the things we do, causes massive self-doubt.

From experience, that self-doubt never goes away on its own and it's not an automatic process where you just magically feel more confident one morning you wake up.

Instead, you'll feel super-confident on Monday and super-shit on Tuesday by lunchtime. That's the nature of the beast.

But in answering this question in this way, I almost managed to dig myself out of the hole that I had found myself in.

How do you know this is a good idea?


I'm sure that you have had this exact question (about your current project / pursuit / startup) as I have had: "Is this really a good idea?"

In the last couple of months, I've asked myself that question so many times about PublicBeta: Is it a good idea? Do I really see this working? Can I realistically believe that this can become a sustainable business?

Simply put, credit card details and actual revenues are always a sure sign that you are onto something. But in terms of really knowing (like you are 100% sure), that's probably not the silver bullet.

Instead I've been taking a more holistic view as to whether this thing I'm working on is actually a good (and potentially, sustainable) idea:

  1. We have early revenues, which means cash in the bank.
  2. We have a growing and engaged initial community, who believe what we believe.
  3. Most of our early revenues came from a pre-MVP validation test. And the signups since have joined a very hacky, MVP-orientated product.
  4. Our engagement metrics are positive without being spectacular (i.e. the signals are there that we are onto something, without us yet changing habits / behaviours).
  5. Our messaging and value proposition is very hacky, lengthy and vague, yet we are already finding like-minded people who will pay for this thing we're building.

When I first wrote down that list, I looked at stuff like #1 & #2 above and felt that that was kinda obvious. But the rest wasn't that obvious; at least not on the surface.

There's something that should be said about (validated) traction that you can generate when the product (UI / UX) is still very painful to use. If people are willing to jump through hoops to a) pay you; and b) use your product, then surely the idea ain't half-bad.

Right?

You've successfully subscribed to Adii Pienaar
Great! Next, complete checkout for full access to Adii Pienaar
Welcome back! You've successfully signed in
Success! Your account is fully activated, you now have access to all content.